There are no two marriages alike. They are all unique! However, there are some general things to consider before your second marriage.
It is helpful to think of the second marriage in a different way – just like you think of a Victorian house in a different way than you think of a modern studio apartment. Yes, they are both houses, but they are so… different. Living in one is a very different experience from living in the other. (I hope I have said the word different enough for you to get my point!)
And now, on to the things to consider…
- Your new spouse is not going to love your children the way you do.
That doesn’t mean anything is wrong – it’s just the way it is. It helps to bring your expectations in line with reality.
- You are not going to love your stepchildren in the same way as you do your own children.
Once again, you are not evil. It helps to know this going in. You can have a good relationship with the stepchildren if you work very hard at being the adult, but it won’t be the same. It’s okay.
- You and/or your new spouse will have baggage.
To use the house metaphor again, you may have moved everything into your first apartment in your Volkswagen Bug, but down the line, you will need a huge moving van to move all your stuff into your new house. Because we all collect stuff. And if we put your stuff and my stuff together, we have even more stuff. There’s going to be stuff. Just expect it. Everybody has triggers, but if you’ve been married before, those triggers are activated. Be prepared for intense reactions. Develop stronger communication skills…and more patience.
- Your stepchildren will never be out of the picture, no matter how old they are.
I sometimes hear people say things like “Yes, Brian is twelve and a bit of a handful, but in six years he’ll be out of the house, and then we can get on with our lives together.” Uh, no. Brian is going to be your spouse’s child FOREVER. So, if Brian gets divorced at the age of 45, and loses his job and needs a kidney, and develops an addiction to opioids, guess what? Brian’s biological parent is going to want to help, and that will affect your lives – even if you both decide not to help. Brian will be an issue, and he will be an issue forever.
- The exes are never totally gone.
Even if the children are grown, there will be weddings and funerals and Christmas and grandchildren, etc.
Now that I’ve given you “the talk”, let me say this:
Second marriages can be very good. Stepmothers and stepfathers can have a positive influence on the children. People heal. People grow. But understand what you are dealing with. If you buy an old Victorian house, you are going to be scraping paint.